On May 1, 1975, The SEC Deregulated Brokerage Commissions And, Through New Competition, The Doors Of Wall Street Slowly Opened To Main Street Investors. Illustration: Neal Obermeyer

Forty years ago today, Wall Street shouted "Mayday!" and a financial services firm opened its doors in Omaha, Neb., to bring competition to the marketplace and change the future of investing for millions of Americans.

On May 1, 1975, the Securities and Exchange Commission, for the first time, allowed brokerage firms to set their own commission prices for buying and selling stock. Dubbed "Mayday" by industry insiders, the move opened Wall Street to competition and built a legacy that has made a lasting impact on the financial futures of millions of Americans.

Few of the new "discount" brokers that formed as a result of this deregulation are still around today. Fewer can say they were there on Day 1.

First Omaha Securities - now TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation (NYSE: AMTD) - opened forty years ago with a half-dozen employees and one ticker tape machine to bring Wall Street to Main Street. At a time when the average commission to purchase shares of stock exceeded $500 in today's dollars, the company was focused on making Wall Street more understandable, accessible and affordable for the Main Street investor.

"Prior to Mayday, Wall Street was confusing and cost-prohibitive for the average American," said Fred Tomczyk, president and chief executive officer of TD Ameritrade. "It took deregulation, smart regulation and a generation of innovation to democratize investing and give Americans a voice in how they wanted to plan their financial futures. Today we celebrate the catalyst for that change."

Transforming an Institution

While deregulation enhanced competition on Wall Street, it was the decision of the Mayday "discount brokerage" pioneers to embrace technology and innovation that transformed the industry and made investing for the individual investor more scalable, more efficient and easier to understand and do. TD Ameritrade stood at the forefront of that movement, contributing, among other things:
  • 1988: the first automated touchtone phone trading system
  • 1995: one of the first online trading platforms, launched following the acquisition of K. Aufhauser & Co., which completed the first online transaction in 1994
  • 1999: the first mobile trading platform, offered in partnership with the SprintPCSSM Wireless Web
  • 2004: one of the first "robo" advisors, or online investment advisory services, Amerivest
  • 2008: the first mobile trading app for Apple's iPhone
  • 2015: the first integration of Twitter into stock research

"This is an industry that has never shied away from change, and the results are remarkable," Tomczyk continued. "Trading costs have declined more than 70 percent in the last 20 years alone, trade execution speeds now average less than a second, and spreads are narrower than ever. The legacy of Mayday has built an investing public that includes more than half of all U.S. households, totals more than $15 trillion in assets, accounts for more than 1 million trades per day, and continues to grow and change every day. It's a legacy that we are proud to be a part of."

Innovating for the Future

Today, TD Ameritrade has grown to nearly 6,000 employees serving 6.5 million client-funded accounts with nearly $700 billion in client assets. Inspired by newer technologies like social media, mobile and the cloud, and enhanced use of data and analytics, the company expects to remain at the forefront of shaping the next generation of individual investors, traders and independent registered investment advisors.

It's a generation looking for digital convenience, balanced with a human touch. According to a recent survey, conducted for TD Ameritrade, a majority of Americans (63 percent), and 76 percent of millennials, feel that advances in digital, online and/or mobile technology are improving their lives. And yet, a vast majority (85 percent), wish they could interact with humans more often, or access humans more easily, when it comes to dealing with companies, institutions and/or organizations. 1

For the discount brokerage industry, as it enters middle age, the key to the future appears to be finding the right integration of the old with the new.

"For the last 40 years, this industry has used advanced technologies to make investing more convenient for people - to bring more information and education about the stock markets to the masses," Tomczyk concluded. "Now we're using technology to take that convenience and make it meaningful at the individual investor level. Personalization - that's what today's investor is looking for, and what tomorrow's investor will expect, and we are committed to bringing it to them in new, exciting ways."

40 Today, Better Tomorrow

Beginning Monday, May 4, 2015, the Company will share its stories spanning the last 40 years of client service and innovation in a new online series, "40 Today, Better Tomorrow," available exclusively through its online publication, Fresh Accounts. Stories will cover technological firsts and behind-the-scenes profiles of the people and technology that have helped make TD Ameritrade the company it is today. Visit http://freshaccounts.amtd.com to learn more.

Source: TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation

About TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation

Millions of investors and independent registered investment advisors (RIAs) have turned to TD Ameritrade's (NYSE: AMTD) technology, people and education to help make investing and trading easier to understand and do. Online or over the phone. In a branch or with an independent RIA. First-timer or sophisticated trader. Our clients want to take control, and we help them decide how - bringing Wall Street to Main Street for 40 years. An official sponsor of the 2014 and 2016 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams, as well as an official sponsor of the National Football League for the 2014, 2015 and 2016 seasons, TD Ameritrade has time and again been recognized as a leader in investment services. Please visit TD Ameritrade's newsroom or www.amtd.com for more information, or read our stories at Fresh Accounts.

Brokerage services provided by TD Ameritrade, Inc., member FINRA ( www.FINRA.org)/SIPC ( www.SIPC.org).

1 "Technological Progress Survey" prepared for TD Ameritrade by Head Solutions Group, April 16, 2015. Fieldwork conducted between April 9 and April 16, 2015.

About Head Research

Head Research is a division of Head Solutions Group (U.S.) Inc., a leading market research partner for Financial Services companies in North America. With offices in New York, Toronto and Montreal, Head delivers the deep customer insights that increase institutional knowledge and propel business action. TD Ameritrade and Head Research are separate and unaffiliated firms and are not responsible for each other's services or policies.

About the Survey

An online survey was conducted with 1,000 U.S.-based adults aged 18 or above by Head Research, between April 9 and 16, 2015, on behalf of TD Ameritrade, Inc. Sample was drawn from major regions in proportion to the U.S. census. The statistical margin of error for the total sample of N=1,000 adults within the target group is +/- 3.1% (assuming that participants are the same as non-participants). This means that, in 19 out of 20 cases, survey results will differ by no more than 3.1 percentage points in either direction from what would have been obtained from the opinions of all target group members in the U.S.

About Amerivest Investment Management, LLC

Amerivest is an investment advisory service of Amerivest Investment Management, LLC, a registered investment advisor. Brokerage services provided by TD Ameritrade, Inc. TD Ameritrade, Inc. and Amerivest Investment Management, LLC are both wholly owned subsidiaries of TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation. Amerivest is a trademark of TD Ameritrade IP Company, Inc. Amerivest provides non-discretionary and discretionary advisory services for a fee. Risks applicable to any portfolio are those associated with its underlying securities. For more information, please see the Amerivest Disclosure Brochure (ADV Part 2).

All investments involve risk, including loss of income payments and loss of principal. Past performance does not guarantee future results. There is no assurance that the investment process will consistently lead to successful investing. Asset allocation and diversification do not eliminate the risk of experiencing investment losses.

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Copyright Business Wire 2010

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